The unemployment rate among professional sports team mascots just got a little lower.
After almost a year on vacation, Youppi!, the furry, orange mascot of the Montreal Expos, has gone back to work.
He has been picked up by the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens after intense negotiations with 10 groups and companies, including the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes. Terms of the deal between the Expos and the Canadiens were not disclosed, but one report said negotiations involved six figures.
Youppi!'s last official event was on Sept. 29, 2004, when the team played its final home game at Olympic Stadium. The baseball club then moved to Washington to become the Nationals.
"With the Expos no longer in existence and him needing a home, I think the Montreal Canadiens and Youppi! will fit nicely together," Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey said at a news conference.
Ray Lalonde, the Canadiens' marketing manager, pointed out that Youppi! is the first mascot in professional sports to move from one league to another.